Research shows that people are checked out more often than they are all in. In the workplace, this is typically due to ritual routines of assignments. There’s always a chance that an employee will soon disconnect and disengage from their work. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to re-motivate them; you can accomplish this through storytelling.
When you delegate a responsibility to an employee, connect it to the moral purpose of their work. Moral purpose signifies the human service aspect of their work. In other words, what are the human consequences of their job? When an employee considers the impact they have, they feel more connected to the assignment.
NYT best-seller Joseph Grenny shares a specific instance of a restaurant manager handling a disconnected employee at work. Her employee was ignoring his responsibility to clean off tables, so she informed him of the following:
“Twenty minutes ago a young mother left her two-year-old daughter on one of these chairs while she went to the order window to buy their food. When she walked away, her daughter began sweeping her hand back and forth over the table that was smeared with [ketchup] from one of our previous guests. Then she began licking it off her hand.”
Needless to say, he felt much more motivated to check the sanitation of restaurant. She used a brief story of a real encounter accompanied with concrete information. Because she changed the frame of the task, she then changed the way her employee felt about the task.
By connecting employees to who they serve, they better understand the consequences of their work. No matter the role or industry, everyone’s work has a direct affect on humanity in some capacity. Inform your team how and why their work matters to others. When they see this connection to human purpose, their engagement increases.